Sizing Up the OTT Conference Bonanza

How many navel-gazing b2b events does it take to talk about the ongoing disruption of the video business? We're finding out right now.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

I’m hurriedly rushing through this blog post this morning because there’s an OTT panel downtown at 11:30 a.m. featuring speakers from STIRR, Philo, Tubi and Pluto TV.

The OTT-centric discussion is taking place at Promax 2019, a business conference broadly skewed around entertainment marketing.

But if I don’t finish in time, it’s no big deal. I’ll have at least half-a-dozen opportunities to hear the positions of major streaming companies at OTT business events throughout the next 12 months.

In the post-print age, demand for business-to-business marketing exposure remains in high demand, and the live b2b event business continues to thrive from sectors ranging from healthcare to energy to media and technology.

And one of the highest areas of concentration concerns the transition of television into over-the-top distribution methods. It seems that every publication and research company is producing a trade show focused on OTT delivery and disruption. That includes my own company, Future, which will produce the “OTT & Video Distribution Summit” on September 5 in Santa Monica, Calif., among other b2b events touching the distribution of video over IP in the coming months.

Right off the top of my head, I can name half a dozen other notable OTT events on the calendar:

There’s this week’s TV of Tomorrow confab in San Francisco. Tracy Swedlow, CEO of producer TMRW Corp., has been putting together trade events focused on the intersection of television and the internet for more than two decades. TV of Tomorrow is Silicon Valley convenient and typically draws a clubby selection of high-level internet video technology execs to a gorgeous location on the old Navy Presidio base overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge.

The also venerable Streaming Media West confab will take place November 19-20 this year at the Westin Bonaventure in Downtown Los Angeles. Streaming Media East was just held at the New York Hilton Midtown on May 6-8.

In December, Parks Associates will once again hoist its Future of Video conference in Marina Del Rey, Calif.

But we’re really just coming out of the busy season.

Last week, there was the OTT Video Executive Summit, a one day event at the Marriott Marquis Times Square produced by market research company Trender Research

Earlier in May, MCN attended the multi-day Pay TV Show in Denver, which is produced by Questex. In its second year, the event drew more than 800 attendees.

There was also the Connected TV World Summit in London back in March. That event regularly draws speakers and attendance from powerful European media and technology companies including Canal +, Virgin Media, the BBC and Deutsche Telekom AG, just to name a few.

These are just a few of the standalone events focused on OTT. There are, of course, notable OTT tracks in major, more broadly skewing events such as CES and NAB. And there are outfits like Digital Hollywood that produce numerous events throughout the year that also touch on the subject.

Demand is somewhat understandable.

You have lots of young companies, many of them startups, looking to establish the kind of profile that drives investment, acquisition and partnerships. And you have lots of b2b companies looking to directly drive business. And, of course, there’s the bewildered industry masses, looking to gather some roadmap that points their careers into an at least vaguely correct direction.

As far as the producers, the business imperative is also clear, with a multi-day, all-encompassing registration typically priced at around $1,200.

These companies typically don’t like to talk about their margins. But even with rental prices of big city convention spaces exceeding $100,000—including food and drink costs—revenue also rains in from sponsorships, which typically go from $5,000 to $10,000, with some deals approaching $20,000.

Premium sponsorships not only deliver booth space, but often an opportunity for company executives to speak in keynotes and on panels.

As press, I typically contribute nothing—tangible, anyway—to this bottom line, with registration and food invariably comped. (Although, I must take this opportunity to express that the Streaming Media people make me pay for my lunch—a perhaps very justifiable position that after two decades of entitled consumption, always jars me a little!)

As for quality, I’d say there’s a ton of repetition in terms of speakers and topics. Sling TV content chief Warren Schlichting is among the more interesting and relevant folks in the video business, but I’ve already seen him speak three times this year.

And the experience is uneven. Last month, for instance, I went to one Android TV panel, which featured Jon Stewart, Google’s strategic partner development manager for the platform. It felt like nothing more than an Android TV sales pitch for pay TV operators.

But at the same show, I also saw a keynote with DAZN North America territory chief Joe Markowski that informed me nicely about a European force in sports streaming I previously didn’t know nearly enough about.

That alone was worth a ride on Southwest Airlines and biting through the rubber chicken. 

Related